The Italian government intervened after Gula asked for help in leaving Afghanistan following the Taliban seizure of power in August, adding that her arrival was part of a wider program to evacuate and integrate Afghan citizens.
American photographer Steve McCurry took a picture of Gula when she was little, living in a refugee camp on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Szarbat Gula she was about 12 (she was born in the 1970s, but it is not known when exactly), when McCurry photographed her in the camp for Afghan refugees Nasir Bagh, just outside the city of Peshawar in northern Pakistan. She was a student at an informal school. As a result of the Soviet attack in the early 1980s, she lost her parents.
After the photo was published, the whole world tried to find Gula, although her identity was unknown at the time. McCurry himself tried to find out something about the heroine of the picture – it was difficult: the Taliban took power, who did not want Western media in their country. It wasn’t until 17 years later, after the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2002, that McCurry returned to Afghanistan and sought out Gula. It was also then that she found out that her photo is known to the whole world.
In 2016, Pakistan arrested Gula for forging a Pakistani ID cardwhen she tried to live in that country
Afghanistan’s then-president Ashraf Ghani welcomed her back and promised to give her an apartment to ensure that “lives with dignity and security in his homeland“.
Since taking power, Taliban leaders have said that they will respect women’s rights in accordance with Sharia, or Islamic law. However, under the Taliban regime in 1996-2001, women were not allowed to work and girls were banned from attending school. Women had to cover their faces and be in the company of a male relative when they left the house.
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